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I’m not being childish, I’m being emotional!

I heard this line in a TV show the other night and it really struck me. It seems fairly common in relationships that when one person exhibits emotion, it is deemed to be childish behaviour and whatever is going on that has led to the emotion is discounted.

What is childish about being emotional? Is emotion in an adult simply not done? It seems that we are saying that somebody in an emotional state isn’t being logical and therefore not worth paying attention to. However, by definition, emotion is not logic. It is something different. Why on earth do we keep expecting emotion to be logical? It isn’t. It’s emotion.

Do we always need to be rational? To be logical?

Emotion is often irrational – I’ll say it again – that’s the whole point! Not only that, but due to the way our brains work, we cannot access our rational brain when our emotional brain is flooded.

And yet, emotion is logical. It is the logical outcome of an event or series of events that trigger you. Everybody comes into relationships – personal or professional – carrying their baggage of beliefs, assumptions and personal history. We all have triggers waiting to happen.

There is information in emotion and there is value in emotion. Whether or not you understand where it is coming from and why, feeling that emotion gives us a big clue about what is important to us, what our values system is, and what our needs are. Ignoring the emotion doesn’t get to the root cause of why we feel emotional. Refusing to engage with the emotional person until they are rational will likely only increase the volume on the emotion.

Try engaging with the emotion, even if you don’t understand it and yes, even if you disagree completely with the subject matter. Acknowledge it is there and try asking the person what they need. The answer might be surprising and the result of having the emotion acknowledged could be surprising as well.


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